The frustrating gap in B2B data benchmarks

The frustrating gap in B2B data benchmarks

Every digital marketing strategy should be unique – after all, each business has unique needs, objectives and audiences. However, that doesn’t mean that brands should shy away from seeing how their digital performance stacks up to industry benchmarks. Comparison may be the thief of joy, but it can also provide valuable insights into the performance of your strategy or campaign.

However, comparing apples to oranges is not exactly helpful – but that’s often what non-retail organizations like B2Bs and associations end up resorting to. There’s an endless amount of digital media data benchmarks available online, but most of them apply solely to retail companies and service providers. Non-retail data benchmarks are much harder to come by; as a result, many organizations struggle to measure their digital success accurately.

B2B data benchmarks

The data collected from retail brands’ social media performances sets high standards that most B2Bs simply cannot match. Brands that sell consumer products and services have a much wider audience; thus, they tend to gain larger followings and experience more engagement online.

B2Bs also tend to focus on different social media channels than B2Cs. Retailers favour Facebook and Instagram but B2Bs often prefer LinkedIn. Unfortunately, many social media data benchmark reports tend to ignore LinkedIn entirely, putting B2Bs at yet another disadvantage.

Matters only get more confusing when considering social media’s return on investment (ROI). ROI is complicated to measure at the best of times, but retailers and service providers have a leg up – it’s relatively easy to track product purchases through tools like Shopping on Instagram.

On the other hand, B2Bs (and associations in particular) aren’t selling products or services – they’re selling ideas. How are these brands supposed to prove that tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram videos result in advocacy and idea adoption? Between the lack of benchmark data and these convoluted objectives, many B2Bs are left wondering if their social media efforts are worthwhile.

So what’s a B2B marketer to do?


Get inspired, not jealous

While social media benchmarks set by the retail sector aren’t particularly helpful when analyzing your B2B’s social media performance, you can take inspiration from the types of content they produce. Love the way your favourite coffee chain or shoe store curates their Instagram posts? Then why not try to emulate them? As long as your keep your content on-brand and applicable to your target audience, there’s no harm in experimenting with a few B2C social media trends.


Hunt down B2B data benchmarks

If you’re struggling to come up with B2B benchmarks, eMarketer provides tons of relevant research on all things digital media – including B2B-specific data. However, you will have to pay for a membership in order to access their reports.

If you’re interested in how other B2Bs use content marketing – and which strategies they find most successful – check out Content Marketing Institute’s “2018 Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America”.


Track your own performance

Tracking against your own past performance can give you the insights you’re looking for. Gather your key metrics (web traffic, social media followers, engagement, etc.) as far back as you can and compare those numbers over time. Take it one step further by doing content analysis on your blog and social media channels to see what types of content – both topics and formats – perform best.


While the digital media game isn’t created equal for B2Bs, the benefits outweigh the pitfalls. If you need help measuring your digital performance, get in touch with us.

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